For Immediate Release:
July 30, 2019
Deputy Chief of Communications
Transformation Update: DYS Continues Facility Improvements, Cultural Shift
Diversion program for at-risk youth moves under department as part of statewide effort
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — As part of ongoing efforts to transform the State’s juvenile justice system, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) has continued to make physical plant changes at its juvenile treatment centers and is upgrading its information technology system so that it can better track treatment and youth outcomes.
The latest facility upgrades are at the Mansfield Juvenile Treatment Center, where contractors are actively working to improve the security fence surrounding the center. In some areas, new fencing is being erected, and all fencing, both new and existing, will be improved to include five feet of “no climb” mesh fencing. DYS Director Michael Crump said he expects the new fencing to resolve an ongoing issue of youth climbing the existing fence and walking away from the center. DYS also has begun work to modernize its information technology system, called RiteTrack, so that it has enhanced reporting capabilities.
“We’re committed to doing the work necessary to enrich these centers and improve our operations, and the organization that is over the day-to-day management is committed, too,” Crump said.
Youth Opportunities Investments (YOI) has committed to making changes to shift the culture of all four centers it manages for the State so that youth focus on their treatment and gaining new skills and education that will help them reintegrate into their home communities. Among the changes YOI has made are having the youth wear school uniforms rather than correctional-style clothing and introducing an incentive system designed to reduce bad behavior.
YOI won the contract following a competitive bidding process to manage the juvenile treatment centers in Mansfield, Harrisburg, and Lewisville, as well as a facility for those ages 18-21 who remain in the juvenile justice system. The State’s fifth facility, the Arkansas Juvenile Treatment and Assessment Center near Alexander, is managed by Rite of Passage.
DYS closed the Colt Juvenile Treatment Center in January and the Dermott Juvenile Treatment Center in July. These closures are part of a larger and ongoing effort announced late last year by DHS and the Governor to improve the juvenile justice system so that it better serves youth and their families.
As part of a larger, statewide transformation effort, the Governor moved the Civilian Student Training Program (CSTP) so that it is part of DYS. CSTP became part of the Department July 1, and Department leadership is already looking for ways to wrap other DHS services around these at-risk youth and their families.
Images from the CSTP program are below: